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Student-friendly work from Army, police in J&K - Deccan Herald
Student-friendly work from Army, police in J&K
Zulfikar Majid, DH News Service,Srinagar,
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Girls compete in a school run by the Army.
Cricketer Gautam Gambhir has come forward to bear the expenses for education of Zohra, the eight-year-old daughter of a policeman recently killed by militants. Such offers to help children keep pouring when security personnel are martyred. For those, who may not get such offers, there are many educational institutions run by the Indian Army and the Jammu and Kashmir Police that provide quality education in the restive region in the Himalayas. However, their work has not made headlines.

While the Army runs 46 Goodwill Schools under Operation Sadhbhavana across Jammu and Kashmir, the police operate seven Police Public Schools in the state.

The Army Goodwill School imitative was taken up in late 1990s when the insurgency had taken a toll on the infrastructure in Kashmir, especially in the education sector.

In the last 15 years, the Army, apart from establishing 46 schools, provided assistance to nearly 1,900 government-run schools in remote areas. The assistance ranges from renovation of existing infrastructure, construction of additional classrooms, libraries, toilets, playgrounds, sports facilities, provisioning of furniture, computers, educational software packages, stationary, and of course books.

Nearly 14,000 students are currently on the rolls with the Army’s Goodwill Schools established mainly in remote and border areas, where such facilities to pursue education rarely exist. Recently, one such school at Behibagh in Kulgam was formally rechristened as Shaheed Lt Ummer Fayaz Goodwill School in memory of young Army officer from Kashmir who was abducted and martyred by militants earlier this year.

The Army has also assisted 565 pass-outs from these schools to secure admission in various institutions outside the state. These include Pacific University, Udaipur, Global Research Institute, Kurukshetra, NOIDA International University, Greater Noida and Hunar-e-Tarash, a rural ministry initiative.

The 'Kashmir Super 30’ project is one such initiative, modelled after the well-known and popular 'Super 30’ programme. The Army partnered with the Centre for Social Responsibility and Leadership, and launched this project in the academic year 2013-2014.

"The popularity of these schools can be measured by the fact that there is a growing clamour by local population for opening more such schools. We also provide scholarships to 840 students from economically weaker sections. Most of the students benefiting from these scholarship schemes have also been assisted in obtaining admissions in institutes outside the state,” an administrator of these schools told DH.

He said the major thrust is to provide education to underprivileged sections of J&K in regions eluded by development. "As many as 23 underprivileged, yet academically brilliant, students were selected from all corners of the state to be trained for entrance examinations for pursuing higher education in engineering. The results were nothing short of marvellous with 17 of the 23 making it to prestigious engineering colleges. One even cleared the IIT-JEE Advanced entrance examination,” he added.

With J&K having a unique mix of population comprising nomadic Gujjars and Bakarwals in sizeable numbers, the Army runs special "Shepherds Schools”, one of its kind initiative at various receiving areas which are frequented by the nomadic tribes. The nomadic groups migrate every year in summer months to upper reaches and to the lower foothills in the winters. While doing so they traverse all three distinct regions of the state. In order to ensure that their children get quality basic and middle school education, the Army in the current year is providing education at summers schools located at Tosha Maidan, Jumagund, Mandian and Lokut Bangas, in Kashmir to 165 nomad children.

Not only have thousands of students benefited by the Army schools in the state, but they have also generated employment for qualified youths of the state. Presently nearly 1,000 teaching and non-teaching staff are employed in various Army Goodwill Schools, across the state. While Army’s imitative has yielded positive results, the J&K police is not far behind in imparting quality education to the wards of militancy affected persons and others. The police run schools in Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, Jammu, Rajouri, Doda and Kargil districts.

The Srinagar Police Public School was founded on October 21, 2000 with the prime purpose to impart education to the children who have become orphans due to turmoil in the state. The institution was inaugurated by the then Director General Police (DGP) Gurbachan Jagat, and was initially made functional up to primary in a small building located in Police Housing Colony in Srinagar. It was subsequently shifted in newly constructed building on June 26, 2006. The school has now graduated to senior secondary level and has more than 900 students on its rolls.

The Police Public School in Jammu has also come of age. It was started in 1976 as a "Day Care Centre” for the children of serving police women. In 1994, the school was rechristened as "Bal Niketan”. It presently has nearly 1,000 students on its rolls.

For the state police what started as means of educating militancy-affected children is now a preferred medium of quality education.

The police public school has been showing excellent performance in the annual board exams for class 10 students with almost 100% pass.

What has raised the morale of the police force is that the parents from the civilian community aspire to see their wards get enrolled in the police-run schools. Annually during the season for new admissions, a beeline of parents is seen to get admission forms for enrolment.

"Almost every applicant wants his or her ward admitted in the school but the constraint from our side is that we can accommodate only a few dozen students for the new session,” said a police official."But given the public response we look ahead to open such schools and further expand infrastructure in every area of Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.